Children going to primary school or daycare in Freiburg will no longer be able to have meat for lunch, with authorities in the city ruling that all meat and fish offerings will be stripped from school meals starting in 2023.
The decision follows similar moves in the United Kingdom, while government officials in the Netherlands have meanwhile been encouraging elementary school children to eat bugs as a “sustainable” source of protein. Although authorities in other countries have pushed similar measures with reference to green agenda goals, according to documents published on the official Freiburg council website, the decision to force children to eat veggie-only meals was an economic one, with authorities arguing that the change streamlines feeding processes for the city. “In order to simplify the processing of meals, from ordering to serving, only one menu will be offered at primary schools and municipal day-care centres from the 2023/2024 school year,” the document detailing the decision reads. “Since the intersection of different eating habits is a vegetarian offer, the menu line should be vegetarian in the future,” the document goes on to claim, before citing the high cost of meat as being another reason to implement the ban. While authorities in Freiburg appear content to strip meat from school menus for purely economic reasons — even saying that the measure could soon apply to High Schools under control of the council in the future — others seem far less pleased with the ban. Many parents have taken to social media to vent their frustration at the decision, with even the Ministry of Agriculture in Stuttgart — the capital of the state within which Freiburg resides — taking issue with the decision. According to Der Spiegel, while officials in the ministry did say that reducing meat consumption for many children would be far from inappropriate, Germany’s youth should ultimately be allowed to decide for themselves what food they do or do not eat. “This also includes the consumption of meat,” the ministry reportedly said.
The Stuttgart-based office also said that it was unaware of any other German authority that had mandated vegetarian-only meals in the same way Freiburg now has, with the move seemingly being highly unusual in Germany. However, similar actions have been taken in other European countries, with one council in the UK voting late last year to serve vegan-only meals at its events. Pushed through by a coalition of left-wing Green and Liberal Democrat politicians in Oxfordshire, the move has greatly annoyed many rural voters within the region with ties to livestock farming. Another school in Britain meanwhile provoked outrage among parents when it decided to ban all meat offerings on its school lunch menu, a move the principal said was in order to lower the carbon footprint of students. Parents were also requested to refrain from giving their students meat within their packed lunches for the sake of saving the environment. Meanwhile, children in the Netherlands have been fed mealworms as part of lessons about food sustainability. With children being seen as “uninhibited” towards eating bugs, students as young as ten were given lessons on alternative forms of protein, with some reportedly being brought on “field trips” in virtual reality to a meatless burger factory.
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